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Carl Cowl

Prospects for Duluth

(September 1932)

The Left Opposition at Work, The Militant, Vol. V No. 36 (Whole No. 132), 3 September 1932, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The results of the successful mass meetings and anti-war demonstration in Duluth are excellent for further organization work for the Communist League. After the meeting previously reported in the Militant, the Party held an anti-war meeting at Court House Square recently in which we publicly advertised that we would participate. For this reason, all the speakers turned their guns on the Left Opposition, the meeting turned into an anti-Trotsky revival. We refused to be provoked, expect when one emboldened bureaucrat said, “I challenge comrade Bloomberg to come up here and deny this!” Bloomberg immediately accepted the challenge and moved to the platform. “No, no”, shouted the speaker in regret, “we don’t want to hear what you got to say!” “Why did you invite me?” asked Bloomberg simply and the crowd roared.

We issued a challenge to the Party, the following day to a debate on the question of their base slander that Trotsky is an enemy of the working class. 1,200 workers came down to the square. This was one of the biggest mass meetings held on the streets of Duluth in recent times. This turnout decisively proves that the workers and especially the Left wing do want to know the truth about the struggle of Trotsky and the Left Opposition. What they want to know especially is how this relates with the day to day struggle of the working class. And this we were prepared to tell them.

The party bureaucrats had organized a squad of hecklers and even hoped to be able to capture the platform. But we hit every attempt squarely on the nose by exposing their tactics before the workers present. The workers understood the reactionary role the Party plays in organizing to break up meetings, and create disturbances and in mass threatened the individual party hoodlums to be quiet or go home. When a vote was put whether to go on with the meeting or not, a forest of hands voted yes, and a solitary hand voted no. The hoodlums feared to vote lest it would be construed as “participation” in our meeting. From that time on the din lessened. “What is your program?” shouted a YCLer. “That is exactly what we are here to explain,” we answered, and proceeded to over program of unity of the working class as a whole on the basis of the united front, and of the Communist party on the basis of Marxism-Leninism.

The party was decisively defeated in their attempt at disruption, but we were not able on this night to complete our speaking program. We therefore announced our third and concluding mass meeting for the following night, where about 800 workers assembled and listened attentively to our message. Comrade Avrin spoke on the Washington massacre. Comrade Bloomberg related the history and problems of the Left Opposition. Comrade Cowl gave the united front policy of the League in the organization of the Unemployed. The Party members this time listened without making a peep. Only once Gardner shouted: “Look what a jackass Bloomberg is making of himself.” The speaker snapped right back: “After your performance last night, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind who is the jackass!” The crowd laughed their appreciation. A number of new party members and sympathizers asked serious questions after the program and discussed before the crowd until after eleven which is a late hour in this town.

The methods we used in handling the Party members were completely vindicated by the results we obtained. What remains to be done however is some intensive organization work in Duluth with the view of organizing a branch, a youth group and possibly an auxiliary. The Minneapolis comrades who have been organizing the work in Duluth will endeavor to follow up in an effort to establish a firm foundation for the Left Opposition in Duluth.

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